Q&A with Directors Salon Alum Illana Stein: or what she will at FringeNYC

Pictured: Monica Jones
Photo by: Flordelino Lagundino

2012 Directors Salon participant Illana Stein tells us about her current project, or what she will by Charly E. Simpson, opening as part of FringeNYC this Sunday. It’s also her birthday!  Happy birthday, Illana!  If you want to get her a birthday present, you can buy a ticket to the show here.

Dina: Tell us about or what she will.  What drew you to the project?

Illana: I first came across or what she will when an excerpt was part of a reading with Project Playwright with Sanguine Theatre Company.  I was directing another piece at the time.  I was really moved by the story of these two thirteen-year old twins. That time in our lives when we are so vulnerable and impressionable and one moment can change everything and send us down a different path.  Charly’s language is poetic, beautiful, and haunting and I couldn’t stop thinking about this story.  From a director’s stand point, it was a set made out of books and that is exciting to use a playground of literature as a metaphor for the play.

Roundtable reading of or what she will in May

What have you enjoyed most about the rehearsal process?  What has been a challenge?  

 I think it has been fun to play and experiment with such abstract text. We have spent a lot of time with text from the workshop back in May to the performance now in August.  Much of the story lies in the stage directions [see below] that an audience will never hear so it’s been both rewarding and challenging-figuring out how to tell that part of the story as well.  I love open-ended scripts and I love a good challenge!


The town over from a university town.

Near the ocean.

You can smell the sea on windy days.

You can hear the sea during the quiet moments.


When you grew up and when you were a young adult.

A world seemingly untouched by technology.

As if you tried to fit Bye Bye Birdie into the 21st century.

(or what she will, pg. 2)

 This is your first time participating in FringeNYC but you’ve been involved in other Fringe festivals in other cities – how is FringeNYC different?

Pictured from left: Dina Vovsi, Alex Haynes, and Monica Jones
Photo by: Flordelino Lagundino

 I directed the World Premiere of Darker by Catie O’Keefe for the Cincinnati 2011 Fringe Festival.  In most ways the experiences have been very similar: 3 hours tech-being the only time in the space, 15 min load in/strike, etc…This is just on a MUCH larger scale.  I also love how you get to push theatrical boundaries in this type of festival setting and work on shows that may never make it to mainstream theater.  I can’t even wrap my head around how 13 other shows share our venue, 187 shows total…Just blessed that we were 1 of 1,000 applicants picked to share our story and amazed that only 2 full time people are running this shindig.  So far I am very impressed and in love with the space at HERE.

Pictured from left: Monica Jones, Rebecca Martinez, and Alex Haynes
Photo by: Flordelino Lagundino

You are co-producing or what she will as well as directing – what have you learned about self-producing and what is a piece of advice you’d give other directors who are interested in producing their own work?  

 I think it’s a hard balance.  However, I was passionate about the show. I could have waited to find a bigger theater to produce it and let me direct it, but that would have taken years and there is no guarantee that would ever happen. Sometimes if you feel that passionate about the work you just have to do it.  You have to be able to wear way too many hats and it will be challenging.  The reward is doing the work on your terms that you feel passionate about. I am so thankful I found a generous team of artists to go on this journey with me.

 What was the last production you saw that inspired you?  

 I was in love with The Cherry Orchard at Classic Stage Company last year.  Just clean story telling.

 What’s next for you?  

 I am next directing Stop Kiss by Diana Son for Sanguine Theatre Company which goes up the end of September.

or what she will

by Charly E. Simpson
Debuting at FringeNYC 2012 – The New York International Fringe Festival

Twins Willa and Faulkner share everything, including their parents’ love of literature. At age 13, they are old souls yet still secretly believe in fantastical worlds…a storm rolls in…waves crash…FLASH…an empty playground…a man walks by…FLASH… Sometimes a moment changes everything.

5 performances only!!!

SUN 8/12 @ NOON,

WED 8/15 @ 3:00 pm,

SAT 8/18 @ 7:00 pm,

SUN 8/19 @ 9:15 pm,

FRI 8/24 @ 4:45 pm

You can get tickets at http://www.fringenyc.org/basic_page.php?ltr=O
$15 advance or $18 at the door

Written by Charly E. Simpson
Directed by Illana Stein

Featuring Leo Arias, Alex Haynes, Monica Jones, Rebecca Martinez, John Say, and Dina Vovsi

Stage Manager-Ashley Singh
Lighting Designer- Porsche McGovern
Dramaturg- Gina Pisasale
Composer- CS Luxem
Fight Choreographer- Alexis Black
General Manager-Derrick Olson
ACR-Connor Davis
Graphic Designer- Lizzie Bond
Marketing/Website Design- Benjamin Wright


One thought on “Q&A with Directors Salon Alum Illana Stein: or what she will at FringeNYC

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s